Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

American Military Housing of Yangmingshan's Shantzuhou

A few days ago, I came across a 2006 article in Taiwan Panorama, a publication of Taiwan's Government Information Office, about the old American housing area in Yangmingshan. Here are a few things that I found especially interesting:
  • 217 houses were built in the early 1950s, all designed by and for Americans.
  • Average floorspace was 264 square meters (about 2,800 square feet) with large lawns surrounding the homes.
  • Each contained a (totally impractical) fireplace and chimney.
  • There were no fences within the community but there were guards at the entrances to it.
  • The atmosphere was almost that of a country within a country.
The article describes an incident during 1957 in which a local man was shot and killed by an American. It sparked large anti-American riots and became known as the Liu Tzu-jan Incident. When I was in Taiwan sixteen years later, I don't recall hearing about this.

The article also talks about the disposition of the old Armed Forces Network Taiwan (AFNT) radio station, which I've written about previously.

The website is sometimes slow to load, but it contains a lot of good historical information.


Misty said...

Actually we often used our fireplace. Taiwan does't get sub zero cold in the winter but it is chilly enough that you might welcome a log fire. Where you would get logs from today is another matter.

It's fascinating that these houses survived. The one's in Tienmu were flattened over twenty years when simple economics dictated better rent could be extracted by building multi-storey appartments. I also remember that a large percentage of the houses were without tenants and stood empty several years before they eventually came down.

Don said...

Misty, I'd forgotten how chilly the Taipei winters could be. I always remember the heat of the summers but some of those cold, rainy days in the winter could be positively bone-chilling!

I guess my comment was based on what the GIO article said about the fireplaces. No doubt they thought they weren't very practical, at least partly because fireplaces weren't common in Taiwan.

Misty said...

I agree that a large western style fireplace must have seemed very odd to the Taiwanese. But the article is right in that all these houses had them.

It's a shame that nearly all of these houses built for westerners were destroyed in Tienmu. My neighbourhood in Tienmu was being torn down in 1974 so in fact a lot of the houses had a relatively short lifespan. Some of them were very nice too. Large walled gardens, car ports, swimming pools were common. There was often a small room for the live in amah (maid) too.

One other area built for westerners that has survived but hasn't been mentioned is "Wellington Heights". It is over behind the veterens hospital and "Dog's Head" mountain.

Kevin said...

I lived on Wellington Heights from 1969-1973. We used our fireplace every Winter. In fact, we had a large shed for wood on the property. I feared going inside, though, because of all the snakes.
I also remember well the compound on North Chung Shan Road, the PX, commissary, movie theater and most of all the hobby shop!

Loree Clary said...

I lived in Wellington Heights 69-72.
I also remember the PX, Movie Theater, Officers club with pool... on North Chung Shan Road. There was also a bowling alley. I loved living in Wellington Heights and went to Dominican and was a sophmore at TAS.
Rode the buses a lot. They were so cheap. Loree Dellfous